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    • Exchange Rates 101
      In light of the collapse of the Ruble I think it’s worth revisiting what controls exchange rates. Supply and Demand. Yeah, if you know something about the subject you’re probably shaking your head. Supply and Demand doesn’t set prices in many cases in the way that an Economics 101 course tells you. Such texts will [...]
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Support a single mom


Okay, I admit it. I’m having way too much fun. But some people are taking this shit waaaaaay too serious.

Tom Bergeron:

“I’m a liberal Democrat, and I state that proudly. But I have no patience with my friends who believe there is a conspiracy keeping Bristol on the show. They’ll say, ‘Oh, well! She’s still on the show! She’s obviously not the best dancer! She gets the lowest scores!’ I’ll say, ‘OK, right. So who did you vote for instead of Bristol?’ ‘Uh, well, I don’t vote!’ ‘Well, then, f**k you,’” he griped to Movieline.com. “I have no patience for that! If you don’t participate to create a different outcome — and this can be true in national politics or a TV reality show — then don’t piss and moan if you don’t like the way it’s playing out. I think Bristol is clearly not the best dancer here, but she’s a charming young woman who’s shown an incredible growth from week one to this week.”

Tonight’s the last night of competition on this season’s Dancing With the Stars. It’s gonna be craaaaayzeeeee!

The number to call or text (AT&T customers only) your vote for them is 800-868-3407. You can also vote online by going here. You get to vote several times, several different ways. Use all your options for Bristol. Voting begins when the show starts. You have until 30 minutes after DWTS ends to vote via phone and text. However, you may vote online until 11 a.m. Eastern the next day.

Tonight’s show airs at 8:00 PM eastern on ABC, with the results airing at 9:00 pm tomorrow.

Join the conspiracy to ruin DWTS!

(This is an open thread)


Guarding Jackie


This piece by former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill is a must-read:

Being on the first lady’s detail was a lot different from being on the president’s. It was just the two of us, traveling the world together. Mrs. Kennedy was active and energetic — she loved to play tennis, water-ski and ride horses. She had a great sense of humor, and we grew to trust and confide in each other, as close friends do.

In early 1963, Mrs. Kennedy shared with me the happy news that she was pregnant again. She had curtailed her physical activities and had settled into a routine at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., for the last few months of her pregnancy. I was on a rare day off when I got the call that she had gone into early labor. I raced to the hospital at Otis Air Force Base, arriving shortly after she did.

The president, who had been in Washington, arrived soon after she delivered their new baby boy, whom they named Patrick Bouvier Kennedy.

When Patrick died two days later, Mrs. Kennedy was devastated. I felt as if my own son had died, and we grieved together.

More here.

For someone who spent almost all of her adult life in the spotlight it’s amazing that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy/Onassis is still an enigma.




Getting to the heart of the matter, SNL’s “Message from TSA” an afternoon Open Thread


Silly me. I was worried about those poor folks with ostomy bags:

A retired special education teacher on his way to a wedding in Orlando, Fla., said he was left humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport earlier this month. Today on American Morning, Thomas D.


Or parents going berserk and stripping off the clothes from their own children:

According to the person who uploaded the video, it was shot on November 19th at Salt Lake City International Airport. Here’s how the uploader describes what happened before the video began:

“…the boy went through a metal detector and didn’t set it off but was selected for a pat down. The boy was shy so the TSA couldn’t complete the full pat on the young boy. The father tried several times to just hold the boys arms out for the TSA agent but i guess it didn’t end up being enough for the guy. I was about 30 ft away so i couldn’t hear their conversation if there was any. The enraged father pulled his son shirt off and gave it to the TSA agent to search, thats when this video begins.”

The uploader writes that he tried to talk to the father and son after shooting the video but was stopped by “a man in a black suit” who asked why he was videotaping “procedures of the TSA.” He writes that the man repeatedly pressured him to delete the video and was trying to “intimidate me to obey.”

Maybe it’s just me but, reading about the dad’s reaction to the boy’s search just made the story MORE chilling. Not less.

After a week of stories like those, I was ready for a lighter take on the matter :: Who knew the whole thing started as an innocent search for a love connection?

Free advice is worth what you pay for it


You may have heard that Harper Collins, the publisher of Sarah Palin’s yet unreleased new book, has obtained an injunction against the tabloid website Gawker for the unauthorized publication of some excerpts from the book.
Professor Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection (wingnut warning) has some free advice for Sarah Palin:

And they bragged when they stole a partial copy of your book, and they dared you and taunted you to do something about it, and you did.

But please don’t stop there. Your TRO is the equivalent of a routine metal detector screening. You found the box-cutter, and confiscated it. Good so far, but not enough.

You need to have your lawyers give the people at Gawker a full nude-body scan and junk fondling.

Uncover the networks, Sarah. For all of our benefit and amusement.

It’s called discovery. In a litigation your lawyers are entitled to e-mails, and all Gawker’s internal documents regarding not only this theft, but you. Because you will want to prove that their intent was to harm you and damage you, so everything they ever have written off-the-record, everyone with whom they ever have communicated about you, every strategy they have employed to take you down, now is fair game.

And your lawyers also get to take depositions under oath of the people at Gawker, and to subpoena for testimony others who may have relevant evidence as to the issue in the case. The Palingate people would be a good start.

What the good professor from Cornell Law School is talking about is “malice.” If you really want to hit the jackpot in a civil suit you want punitive (aka exemplary) damages. To get punies a plaintiff needs to prove the defendant acted with “Fraud, Malice Or Oppression.”

Malice – The intentional commission of a wrongful act, absent justification, with the intent to cause harm to others; conscious violation of the law that injures another individual; a mental state indicating a disposition in disregard of social duty and a tendency toward malfeasance.

Malice gets a public figure past the Sullivan standard too.

That gives Harper Collins and Sarah Palin the right to start digging through Gawker’s files and deposing their employees. If they uncover new causes of action, they can amend their complaint to allege new counts.

Even if Gawker wins they can end up paying boocoo simolians to their attorneys. “Nobody made any money except the attorneys” is what the legal profession calls a “happy ending.”



The Dissolution

Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire Wolds

In the mid 1530’s, King Henry VIII of England authorized Thomas Cromwell to shut up the monasteries in that country under the guise of consolidation.  A methodical review of all of the monasteries, complete with inventory, was conducted.  Most of the smaller, poorer monasteries were closed, the monks and nuns forced to seek shelter at the bigger monasteries.  At the bigger monasteries, a different kind of pogrom took place.  Some of the abbotts and abbesses were able to negotiate small pensions to ease their way and that of some of their charges in the world.  The monasteries and convents were stripped of their wealth and sent to Henry’s treasury where he rewarded his retainers to ensure their loyalty.  The monasteries themselves were broken apart, the libraries made into bonfires and the tenants dispersed.

Those who resisted, like the Bishop of Glastonbury, were treated to “black propaganda”.  They were accused of the most heinous offences of pedophilia, sexual licentiousness and the like.  And while there were instances of immorality, sloth and greed at some of the richer abbeys, it wasn’t true of all.  The Bishop of Glastonbury did not survive his encounter with Henry’s men.  He was charged a traitor to the crown and was drawn, quartered and his parts nailed to the gates.

Nuns fared particularly poorly.  Henry forbade them from marrying unless they were coerced to take their vows before the age of 20.  Some nuns did eventually marry but were persecuted for it in some areas of the north.  The convents themselves were places of education for anyone who could spare the time from their daily chores to learn.  They were particularly important to women because there was virtually nowhere else in England where women could learn languages other than English or be acquainted with the classics or discuss Aristotle.  It is said that after the dissolution, education for women did not recover its former capacity for two centuries.

Oddly enough, Anne Boleyn, who was the instigator of the reform movement in the first place, tried to intercede for a number of convents that applied to her for help.  She had limited success.  She also came into conflict with Cromwell who performed his duty to enhance the power of the state under Henry.  Anne was appalled that the proceeds of the dissolution were going into the hands of the already rich and powerful.  She challenged Cromwell and Henry to turn the monasteries into colleges and to distribute the money to the taxpayers who had footed the bill for the monasteries for centuries.  She had her chaplain sermonize to Henry about it from the pulpit.  He was not amused.

It was this conflict that finally cost her her head.  Maybe Henry could have given her a couple more years to produce an heir.  Maybe he could have worked out a deal with Emperor Charles V to recognize his marriage to Anne while restoring his daughter Mary to the succession.  But he couldn’t tolerate Anne’s bleeding heart liberalism getting in the way of enriching his treasury.  Cromwell saw her as a threat to his authority and set her up.  Henry signed off on the plan.  To the Tower she went.

History and human nature have ways of repeating themselves.  Those of us who get too comfortable are in for a nasty shock when the rules holding the social compact together get relaxed.  There will always be people who look after themselves and cement their place in the hierarchy using violence, intimidation and propaganda to satisfy their greed for power and wealth.  It has happened since time immemorial and will happen wherever the general public lets down its guard or is lead astray by clever salesmen.  Whatever wealth there is goes to the sociopathic robber barons with the blessing of the state.  Tenants are evicted.  People die in old age in poverty.  No system of government is immune.

A system tends towards disorder without constant vigilance.

For more on the subject of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, listen to the In Our Times podcast.

For more on the Dissolution of America, read There Will Be Blood by Paul Krugman.

47 years ago today


My earliest memory is the day John F. Kennedy was killed. My mom came and picked me and my sister up from daycare early as the whole nation came to a screeching halt in shock. I was three years old.

I remember my mom telling me the president had died and gone to heaven and I was confused because he was still on television. That’s when I learned the concept of “pre-recorded.”



John Fitzgerald Kennedy will be forever young in our memories. Jackie is gone now too, as are John-John, Bobby and Teddy.

Rest in peace.




The future’s so bright, Obama’s gotta wear shades

"I see an empty suit . . ."


Would I joke about something like this?

A Forecast That Obama Could Love

THINGS are looking up for Barack Obama.

You might not think so, given the flow of news lately. His foreign policy has met with limited success, at best. And, back home, unemployment is mired at 9.6 percent. Earlier this month, in a major political blow, Democrats lost more than 60 seats and control of the House of Representatives.

So what is there for Mr. Obama and his supporters to cheer about?

Try this: Based on the facts at hand right now, Mr. Obama is likely to win the 2012 election in a landslide. That, at least, is the prediction of Ray C. Fair, a Yale economist and an expert on econometrics and on the relationship of economics and politics.

What’s the basis of this forecast? In a nutshell: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

To make a long story short, Mr. Fair thinks:

A) The economy will be booming again by 2012 and

B) Obama will be Mr. Popular again.

I’ll agree that if A is true then B is probably true too, but I don’t agree that A is true.

Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. But there is a reason they call economics “the dismal science.”

Not all Democrats agree with Fair’s rosy assessment of the economy. If they did they wouldn’t be trying to preemptively blame the Republicans for it:

Matt Yglesias had an item the other day that went largely unnoticed, but which I found pretty important.

…I know that tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012 which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.

Which is just to say that specifically the White House needs to be prepared not just for rough political tactics from the opposition (what else is new?) but for a true worst case scenario of deliberate economic sabotage.

Budget expert Stan Collender has predicted that Republicans perceive “economic hardship as the path to election glory.” Paul Krugman noted in his column yesterday that Republicans “want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.”


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